Q: Thank you for visiting my blog again. This week’s post is another fun steampunk interview. Jon Hartless is an author of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. His latest title is a steampunk novel called Full Throttle. It’s a cool steampunk adventure with creative world building and plenty of rebellion. Thanks for joining me today, Jon.
A: Thank you for interviewing me, Stephanie.
Q: Why did you become an author?
A: Writing is one of the few things I was good at, from school age onward. I was terrible at mathematics, science, games, everything, but I tended to get good marks with stories, most likely because I loved reading as a child. This continued through college and University, and given that I enjoy writing, it seemed obvious to carry on.
Q: Which authors or books inspired your work the most?
A: That’s a difficult one, as it is challenging to know what has influenced me directly. I loved the Asterix books as a kid, and the Dr Who Target novelizations – this was long before VHS – and as I got older, the Sherlock Holmes stories and other ‘whodunnits’ became favorites. Then there was Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and after that Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore… But did these influence the writing of Full Throttle? Obviously, they all helped form my interests, but finding a direct correlation is difficult. However, I did read up a lot on the Bentley Boys and motor racing of the 1920s, including The Bentley Era by Nicholas Foulkes, The Bugatti Queen by Miranda Seymour, and numerous personal reminiscences by the people involved in the sport and Bentley Cars at that time. Indeed, the title Full Throttle is taken from Tim Birkin’s autobiography of that name.
Q: Why did you become interested in the steampunk genre?
A: I found out I was writing it by accident. I had done anachronistic stories with advanced technology in a Victoriana setting, and then I somehow stumbled onto Steampunk online and realized that was the name of the genre I had been working in. I enjoy it because the genre is flexible; you can do adventure, comedy, romance, horror – sometimes all at once.
Q: Would you mind explaining the basic premise of Full Throttle?
A: It was inspired by the era of the Bentley Boys, very famous racing drivers of the 1920s. The press loved them for their wealth, charisma, and daredevil attitude. In those days, racing – and pretty much car ownership – was for the wealthy only, and it struck me that the sport was a great way of examining the gulf that exists in opportunity, education, and wealth between the rich and everyone else. Throw into that discrimination on gender, disability and class, and I realized I had the makings of an interesting story which could be hidden under Steampunk motor racing adventure.
Q: What should we know about your protagonist named Poppy?
A: She’s angry; angry at life, at her lack of opportunities because of her working class background, angry at her disabilities for which she is judged by society, and she’s angry at being isolated – no one is up to Poppy’s level of intelligence, which also marks her as an outcast. But to balance that out, in case it makes her sound rather negative, she does laugh a lot with her friends, and she’s passionate, brave and also resourceful.
Q: Is Full Throttle a commentary on issues happening in today’s world?
A: It certainly is. Britain is little more than a corrupt oligarchy, supported by the conmen of the British media who claim to be the watchdog of the people, supposedly holding governments accountable, but in reality they ensure that the status quo is never challenged and that the government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich, remains forever in power. Poppy’s world reflects that.
Q: Do you have other books on the market?
A: I did, but most are no longer available. My Lady Mechatronic series is still out there under a pen name, but be warned; it is a pirate romp designed as a quick, light read, and as such, it is very different from Full Throttle.
Q: What does steampunk mean to you? There’s no right or wrong answer.
A: Imagination, creativity, good chums. And probably corsets.
Q: I know you enjoy writing about steampunk. Do you also participate in the cosplay scene?
A: No; I’m more drawn to the world-building and how I can use Steampunk to reflect certain issues – or just to have fun with it.
Q: It seems like steampunk fans are a very diverse crowd from many regions of the world. Why do you think steampunk is reaching out to such an eclectic audience?
A: Steampunk can be many things to many people – dark and gritty reflection, fun and camp escapism, anything, really. I think some people simply enjoy the dressing up, others enjoy making things such as outfits or props, (blasters, computers, time travel devices etc), while others probably enjoy the social side of it all.
Q: Here’s some interesting news for steampunk fans. The Mortal Engines is going to be a live action film in December of 2018. Do you think it will be successful at the box office?
A: I honestly have no idea; it has a big name producer in Peter Jackson, but previous attempts to do Steampunk on the big screen (Wild Wild West and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman) have not done that well. But fingers crossed for it.
Q: Are you interested with the other “punk” genres like cyberpunk, dieselpunk, rococopunk, stonepunk, etc.?
A: I messed around with cyber and diesel some years ago, trying to do something with them, but I didn’t get very far. I think that may be because most of my background reading has been on the 19th century rather than any other era, and advanced technology is something of a closed book to me.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: Middle-aged grump probably sums me up quite well.
Q: Thank you very much for talking to me today, Jon. It’s nice to know that writers are still churning out steampunk work. Best wishes for a successful career and I think it would be cool for us to keep in touch.
A: Thank you very much!
That's the end of another steampunk interview. I hope you guys will consider reading Full Throttle. It sounds like a really interesting book with a lot of fun steampunk elements. I'm going to leave some links, so you can learn more about Jon and his work. Thanks for visiting and keep your eyes open for next week's post.
Jon Hartless on Twitter
Full Throttle on Amazon
Full Throttle on Amazon-UK Edition
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